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I’m on my way to die in the English Channel

November 5, 2015
Someone snapped this photograph when Carl was on leave, before entering infantry training in Arkansas.

Someone snapped this photograph when Carl was on leave, before entering infantry training in Arkansas.

How could Carl have known his fate? Well, obviously he didn’t. Carl was assigned to a machine gun section in the weapons platoon of E company, 262nd Regiment, 66th Infantry Division.

Carl was intimately known by his US army buddies, including Bill Moomey. I met Bill Moomey. He was a mild, soft spoken man in Kearney, Nebraska. My sister, Carol, and I drove to Kearney to meet Bill and his wife, Doris. Bill was with Carl moments before he died from a German U-boat submarine torpedo attack. This made Bill cry when I spent some time with him.

When my sister and I found the Moomey’s address in Kearney, we drove up and down some modern-looking housing. They were all beige. The houses had white fences and curl-de-sac streets.

Eventually we found their address. I knocked at the door which was beside the driveway. Looked more like a condominium. A man came to the door. I told him that I was Carl Bonde’s nephew.

He replied, “Nope.”

He looked at my sister, then said, “yep.” she looked to be about the right height.

Bill invited us in. He and his wife Doris had us eat a farmer’s dinner. It was roast beef, potatoes. You know, the green beans. Then for dessert, lemon bars. I ate one. Doris invited me to have another. I declined. She dropped the plate of lemon bars on the counter. “Well!” she said. As if I had refused to acknowledge her existence. I got that. However, I didn’t take the bait. I let the lemon bars lie there on the counter.

Soon Bill sat us around the table and said grace. He invited the Lord to bless the meal and us travelers. I felt distinctly blessed.

The meal was sumptuous. Potatoes. Roast beef. Vegetables. I remember carrots. Green beans. The kind of meal one would eat on a farm. Bill and Doris had vegetables growing on their back porch.

After our meal Carol and Doris left to head into Kearney for shopping.

Bill and I walked down to his basement. To his shrine. (His name for it.) I noticed that Bill had his army badges, insignia and awards all on display. Bill had made sergeant. He had his 66th Division Panther insignia.

I showed Bill all of the photographs I had of Carl Bonde with his horn playing buddies. Bill didn’t recognize any of them. I showed him the photo of Carl with the great group of anonymous soldiers, all without smiles, all in rigid formation. Bill supposed that photograph was taken after basic training. He didn’t know any of the soldiers.

Then Bill took me upstairs to watch the History Channel documentary titled “Coverup! The Leopoldville Disaster!” We watched until the one sailor said he pushed some African men into the sea to die. I asked Bill if he believed that. He said he doubted that had happened.

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